Patriots

/ by Tom E. Curran
Presented By DraftKings
Patriots

So the Patriots are basically going to leave Jarrett Stidham alone? Is that it? Sink or swim with a fourth-rounder?

That’s the plan.

Good. Slow clap. That’s the right move. For a whole lot of reasons, the main one being there wasn’t a Jacob, Justin, Jordan, Jake, Jalen or James in this draft who is a layup to be better than Jarrett. There was a Joe. But the Patriots had no shot at him.  

Unfortunately, I’m sensing frustration in the region.

All that foreplay. All the seductive talk of “premium picks” potentially being spent, the enticing predictions of first-round chaos being unleashed as the Patriots dove boldly into the post-Brady era by going all-in on some would-be quarterback successor.

Didn’t happen Thursday night. Didn’t happen Friday night. Didn’t even happen on a sparkling Saturday afternoon when it seemed almost certain the Patriots would draft a body.

I’ll say it again. Good.

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Because at this time last year, the skinny on Stidham was that he regressed in his last year at Auburn because of the scheme and lack of talent around him.

The Patriots got a quarterback with as much arm talent as anyone in the draft, a kid who would have been a first-rounder if he came out in 2018. He was a depressed asset and the Patriots may have gotten a steal. That’s what we were all saying a year ago. Don’t deny it.

What exactly did he do wrong between last April and this April that would make anyone think it was a good idea to waste a pick on a quarterback who wasn’t as good as Stidham is right now? Who probably won’t be as good as Stidham in three years time? Stidham had a good rookie offseason. He had a training camp in which he made obvious progress. He had a very nice preseason. He impressed his veteran teammates all year long in practice.

 

He didn’t get worse in the last two months. But the annual force-feeding of quarterback propaganda struck again. And by the middle of the month – as always seems to happen - the Patriots become a trendy team to mention as coveting Baker or Johnny or Tua.

It didn’t make any sense at all. Not just because Stidham was better, but because the Patriots are not currently in a position to be throwing away picks on “maybes” when they have better than a “maybe” already in the house.

The Patriots have a guy who – at the very least – appears to be someone who can keep his hands on the wheel at 10-and-2 and drive the offense at 55. Now, with two tight ends added, a first-round pick entering his second year, a new fullback, an offensive line that will hopefully stay healthy and an offensive coordinator who is adept at developing quarterback talent, you give him the year.

If, by the end of 2020, he’s shown that he’s smart enough to not throw the ball into the clouds like a javelin when he’s under pressure, understands that taking a thunderous hit to gain an extra 22 inches in the second quarter is a bad idea and doesn’t take nonsense sacks when the team’s in scoring position, then he gets another year.

All of those things are bound to happen at some point. But if they aren’t happening as often in December as they are in September then that’s great. Because you can win with a quarterback like that provided he’s got the athletic ability to play the spot, and Stidham most certainly does.

Win Super Bowls? We should probably relax on that measure for a few seasons. Win enough to get his team into the playoffs? We might have to settle down on that as well. This is a rebuild. And the Patriots didn’t order up the offensive material to begin that rebuild in earnest yet. They were a slow team on offense coming out of 2019. They are going to be a slow team on offense going into 2020.

They spent their draft collateral on clear needs at safety, linebacker, edge defender and tight end. They did nothing at all at wideout, choosing instead to bring in a kicker, a guard, a tackle, a linebacker and a center late in the draft.

The kicker – Justin Rohrwasser – was taken with their first pick on Saturday, No. 159. He was probably not a highly-coveted player and could have been taken later. Like seventh-round later.

 

Meanwhile, wide receivers went flying off the board after Rohrwasser: Tyler Johnson, Collin Johnson, Quintez Cephus, John Hightower, Isaiah Coulter, Darnell Mooney, K.J. Osborn, Donovan People-Jones, Isaiah Hodgins, K.J. Hill and several more before the draft ended.

The Patriots didn’t select any receivers in what was said to be an historic crop. They’ve only taken two – N’Keal Harry and Malcolm Mitchell – earlier than the third round in the past seven drafts. Maybe the two players they added on the cheap as free agents this offseason – Damiere Byrd and Marqise Lee – make a contribution. We’ve seen that movie before though and almost without fail, those kinds of free agents have failed here.

Bottom line, aside from the two tight ends, Stidham will be working with the same corps of offensive skill position players that Tom Brady was in 2020. Harry should be better. Mohamed Sanu should be healthier. Julian Edelman will be Julian Edelman. But it’s not set up for Stidham to rip it up.

He’s in the unenviable position of replacing the greatest quarterback ever with an offense that even Brady had a hard time lugging downfield for much of 2019.

But he’s also in the enviable position of knowing he’s getting the shot he deserves.